Friday, November 30, 2012

Back in the saddle - yes, really.

I never did post anything up about Jacked N Ripped. The reasons for that are two-fold:

1 - I mentioned I wouldn't post anything that would give away content that was protected within JNR as a workout plan / methodology. JNR is a paid program by Mark McManus and I have absolutely no problem protecting his intellectual property as it pertains to JNR. I have no problem with this (even though that's already the right thing to do) because he gives so much more info away for free, constantly, over at his main MuscleHack website.

2 - I went through about 6 weeks of JNR, and while it kicked my ass harder than any other program that Mark has EVER come up with I still didn't give it the full test drive that it deserves. It's on my list for a revisit later this winter (after Christmas). I'll write a bit more about it then.

So, with that out of the way, what the hell else have I been up to? Well, what I've been up to pretty much encapsulates the reasons that I haven't had time for JNR, or really much working out at all of late. At my worst, I've been in the gym once per week for maintenance following MuscleHack's THT HIT program. I've lost a bit of muscle, but I've stayed right on around 200lbs. Now that the last few weeks have allowed me some more time into the gym - and to myself - I'm able to ramp up some into a THT 3-day Volume cycle. WOOT!

Work has been keeping me VERY busy. This is a good thing, even though it has been keeping me out of the gym lately with after-hours meetings and other duties. I can deal with that. We opened an additional office here in my home town and I've been busy deploying hardware to our wholly-owned subsidiaries around the world as we move closer to integrating them with our head office. Lotta OT. Phew.

Also, I signed on with a volunteer organization that works in concert with the Canadian Department of National Defence. The org is called CASARA, and it stands for the Civil Air Search And Rescue Association. I've been trained as an aerial Spotter, someone who looks for target objects on the ground / in the water depending on the incident. It's a great feeling to volunteer as what amounts to being a "first responder", and to put in some time with a charity that knows your name. Our CASARA unit is a great bunch of folks and I'm both honoured and proud to be a part of their group.

 So, what does this all mean?

  • If you've crashed somewhere in the Eastern / Northern Ontario area, I might get called out to find you.
  • I'm even more ready for the zombie apocalypse than ever.
I'll post up some pics shortly. I'm on track, again, for 210lbs and under 10% BF all over again. It feels great!

Lift hard and train smart, MuscleHackers!


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

This is probably entirely overkill

As you're no doubt aware, I'm a pretty dedicated (OK, completely dedicated) disciple of Mark McManus's THT training system, the free series of weight-training and lean-mass diet techniques from

I've been a fervent MuscleHacker for years. I believe in what the programs can help you accomplish. I've even helped friends lose weight (a LOT of weight) and regain their health with MuscleHacking.

Now, Mark has thrown nitroglycerine into a paint mixer with Jacked N Ripped. I have to say that I had a nice chat with Mark prior to getting into the program. He admitted that while it's a fantastic program, I was on the outlying edges of who the program was intended for. My bodyfat hovers around 10% (although it's about 11-12% currently) most of the time. I'm already in great physical shape. My only real detracting factor is my diet. Still, I was undaunted.

I know now what he meant by "the best work" he has ever done (in creating the new program).

I'm armed, primed and ready. I have the workout logs loaded and ready to go. I'll be starting mid-week, but then again that's nothing new to me. I don't like sitting around waiting for things to happen. Tonight is a mid-week start for Jacked N Ripped.

It's familiar to me and yet entirely new. This requires complete devotion from me for diet. It's different than how I've approached my eating over the last few years. I won't get into details, but this is a really, REALLY well thought-out program.

More news to come, but this is indeed more along the lines of TSPA in terms of the fact that it's a proprietary, closed-source program. I can't reveal exactly what makes up JnR. If you want in, and trust me... YOU DO... get a hold of Mark via his Facebook page and let him know.

Again, you WANT IN. Absolutely.

Train hard and lift smart, MuscleHackers.


P.S. - I will be offering updates, but they'll be non-technical, non-statistical and anecdotal in nature. I'll divulge as much as I can without giving away the content that Mark has worked so hard to compile and distill for everyone. I hope that you all can understand that.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Project Cyttorak, one month on

This has been a most educational experience. As I like to hang my own experiences off of popular items in society, I'll use a comparison of my progress thus far in parallel to the Dark Knight Trilogy. Yes, I just watched The Dark Knight Rises last night. It was AWESOME! Now, on to the amateur weightlifting analysis.

I found myself unable to work out in the classic MuscleHack ways after my first THT experiment last fall / winter. Training at a normal THT cadence was not working for me. I was actually plateauing in several places, notably my shoulders, when I should have been seeing my muscle growth carrying on in its usual breakneck pace.

This is much like the end of Batman Begins. Bruce finds himself wholly consumed by the Batman. He is at a level beyond ordinary men, and needs to "live" there to survive.

Now, as I find myself moving, training at a higher standard compared to even regular THT training. The bar has been raised and there's no going back. This is an analogy that relates directly to The Dark Knight Rises - MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD.

Bruce must remake himself in order to survive and to remind himself why he's alive - and that he wants to remain alive for more reasons than actually being Batman. In my training, I'm reminded of the fact that I cannot go back to my old training ways and that I now hold myself to a higher standard - a standard I have to maintain if I want to continue to progress in my training. In reality, I've re-made myself again in my training as it's the only way forward that I can see right now.

I took the most of 3 months off starting in March. I'm already pretty much back to where I was, especially compared with my body type and build compared to where I was in January - I'm about .5% higher in my body fat than I was then. I notice the difference mostly in my abs and chest. I'm almost back now. Physically I'm strong, I'm sure of that. Now, to just get that little bit leaner and keep adding muscle mass.

It's not an easy road, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Keep lifting hard and training smart, MuscleHackers!


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Meathead problems!

This week has become a complete litany of fun events. I shoveled a load of soil into the Ram (haven't felt like a farmer in ages!), got a damn good workout in yesterday and realized that I've once again joined the ranks of the (all-natural) meatheads.

What are "meathead problems"? Allow me to list but a few of them:

  • Unable to do most leg exercises with two legs (leg extensions, leg curls, standing calf raises) because you've maxed-out on the machine's weights.
  • That odd look you get when you spot a fellow lifter with two fingers on each side of his bench press.
  • Lamenting how slow the water fountain is at cooling the water (because you're always there between sets).
  • Griping about how your grip strength is slightly behind your dumbell trap shrug holding requirement. Now you need straps, you wimp.
  • Having to improvise on your workouts / breaking your sets into novel groupings just to make sure you're absolutely hitting yourself as hard as you can for maximum growth.
  • When you actually hit your second wind during cardio and realize you could do this for hours, much to the chagrin of those around you. Hello economy of motion!
  • Performing tasks that seem easy to you, then suffering the realization that "hey, not everyone can boulder straight up 20+ feet and haul themselves over an edge like an action movie stunt".
  • One of the only real exercises that pushes you to the point of breaking anymore is dead-lifting.
  • Having to scrutinize labels for carb, protein and healthy fat content, while not paying as much attention to "calories".
  • Planning your entire week solely around workouts - not work or time off, or recreational activities. Can. I. Get. In. One. More. Workout?!?
There's a bit of satire here, but not much. Working out is a lifestyle. For the dedicated, it's not a choice. All you're doing is adjusting your rest periods between workouts - nobody ever TRULY leaves.

Food for thought on this awesome Wednesday. :)


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How DOES one become a Juggernaut, anyway?

First off, you need to make sure that you've read the title correctly and realize that this has nothing to do with juggalos. At all. Or Insane Clown Posse. It's music to some, and cosplay for some of their fans, but neither of those things has anything at all to do with my experiment.

The premise of my workout is simple, but it's only that: a premise. There's no hard fact or per-established case evidence that what I'm doing is any better than any other weightlifting workout out there at all. What I'm doing is taking something that works well (THT 4.0 HIT from Mark McManus's awesome MuscleHack doctrine) and just adding piles of extra work to it. Well, there's a bit more to it than just that.

The first set consists of massive amounts of weight, 4-6 reps (adding weight and resetting after 6 successful reps). This is largely regarded as a "mass-building" set, geared more toward bulking up than adding pure, lean muscle. I find that the intense weight moved (after a warm-up set of 6-10 reps, 33-40% of my first weight) helps to really get the blood "boiling" and gets the muscle prepped for a serious beating.

The second and third sets are done in near-typical MuscleHack fashion. These sets are drop-sets of -10% and -10% again, 6-8 reps. This rep range is more in keeping with strict MuscleHack philosophy, and to a lesser extent classic bodybuilding doctrines.

Cardio is sporadic and fun: ball hockey, biking, hiking, rock climbing (bouldering). Anything non-regimented. I like fun cardio and hate anything that's rigid or structured for cardio. This keeps a nice balance between my workouts and my "down time", which includes cardio.

Eating: I eat. A lot. Lots of white and red meats, lots of all-natural peanut butter on whole-wheat toast. Whole grains are my fave carb, and the odd white pasta makes it in there too at times. Weekends are largely carb-up days (normally Saturdays).Trying to get more greens going, along with my cardio, to cut down about 1-1.5% BF or so... I'm just over 10% currrently (likely 11), but was a bit higher a few weeks ago. It's remarkable what a few months of little-to-no exercise can do to you.

More to come as I go along.

Train hard and lift smart, I always say. Even if your motivation is a mythical false deity who exists only to create avatars of pure destruction.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Project Cyttorak - End of Week 1

I'm sore. I'm tired. I'm trashed - and I haven't even been in the gym proper today. I also feel like my muscles are bursting out of my skin. I'm done my first week and I just want to sleep!

This will be a short entry - I picked up a massive blister on my right middle finger at the end of hockey today and it ruptured, taking the skin with it. Typing is... fun.

In the meantime, have two more pics from day #2. I might do a light day tomorrow, so I'll likely get more pics then. I feel WAY better. My definition is on its way back and my leanness is starting to get back there as well. Now, all that's left is to get... bigger. ;)

Lift hard and train smart, MuscleHackers!


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

It's been a while

It's been about 5 months since I've made a meaningful entry. To quickly catch things up, I worked out as planned until mid-March or so, and then back-pedalled on my training for a while. In essence, I was testing myself. How long could I go with minimal workouts? Would a variety of other daily tasks at least slow the muscle atrophy and strength loss (i.e. lumberjacking, working on my vehicles with hand tools, etc).

At the end of the day, after a successful first workout in what I've decided to call "Project Cyttorak", I found that I've definitely lost some strength (and muscle mass). However, the losses weren't as severe as I was expecting - which is a very good thing.

I've often been asked in the past as to why I choose to name my experiments. In reality, it's a two-fold situation. One, naming the experiments that I perform is really no different than giving a book a title. You wouldn't attempt to sell a book to the public without a name. Why would I attempt to "sell" myself on an idea without a name? Two, it makes it a bit more of a game and it keeps me interested.

Take, for instance, the name of my current "experiment" - Cyttorak. It's derived from the Marvel Comics' character (entity / god), Cyttorak - the source of Cain Marko's, aka the Juggernaut,  powers. The crimson gem (ruby) of Cyttorak embues Cain with nigh-limitless strength, durability, stamina, the ability to live without air/water/food if required... and it also renders him immortal. In return, he becomes the avatar of Cyttorak on the plane of reality we call "life" (on Earth). Cain's purpose as the Juggernaut is to cause death and destruction in Cyttorak's name.

Obviously, I'm not out to cause death and destruction. However, the fearsome size and musculature of the Juggernaut is second to none. What should really be taken from the name I've chosen is that I'm NOT going to stop until I get to where I want to be. That's what Cyttorak means - unstoppable progress, unstoppable power. I'm not stopping until I'm done. It's that simple.

What we have here, as far as a program goes, is a THT 4.0 HIT-inspired workout. It's 4 days on (straight), and 3 days off. Instead of the old experiment where I did one set per exercise, this time I'm doing THREE sets. Is it sustainable? I'd like top hope so. Will I have days where I just can't keep up the gradual progressions pace? Possibly, but hopefully not too many. What does this mean? I'll be doing sets to a max of 8 reps, wherein I add more weight and go for at least 4 reps on my next set. Then, I'll drop 10% or so and go for at least 4 more reps. Then the same once more.

This is easily the most insane workout I've ever done, bar none. 4 days of total body workouts, 3 sets per exercise. One day alone of this left me ruined when I left the gym, and totally devoured by the evening - I slept like a rock, dead to the world.

3 months of turning an "off" period from the gym into a self-measuring, self-evaluation tool. 3 months of pondering, planning, micro-testing and more planning. Now, I get to take all of my pre-work, all of my guesswork, all of my estimates and blow my expectations right out of the water.

Project Cyttorak has already begun. Today is Day 2, the aftermath from Day 1 and the upcoming Day 2 events touching shoulder to shoulder.

I can't wait for Day 3. Or Day 4. Or Day 5 (next week).

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Things that make you go hmmmmm

So, I was at the gym last week with my latest MuscleHack inductee. As we were there, a LOT of my "gym buddies" showed up. I do enjoy working out around people I know because those little 1-2 minute convos really add something to your rests between sets!

However, it also beggared the thought that "maybe my training needs have reached a new level?"

I say this because I may have inadvertently started that particular ball rolling when I did my THT 4.0 HIT Experiment last year. However, I've turned up the magnification on my workouts now and I'm going day-by-day and tweaking / adjusting my workout as needed (at least as dictated by my brain).

Something to note here is the fact that after a couple of weeks of literally feeling "less" than my usual self, being on a 3 days of "normal" THT 4.0 3-day Volume and 3 days of "heavy" or "lighter" 3-day Volume seems to be the right stack for me.

Also, being on my protein again seems to be a bonus. I've also stuck fairly regular with a no-sugar pre-workout that seems to give me that extra "boost" needed to smash my heaviest sets at the beginning and still have enough energy left at the end for my finishing sets.

As always, the only way to get what you want is to go UPWARD and ONWARD. I capitalise both of those words for the sheer fact that they're the truth. Anything less than your best simply won't do. Over time, you'll have to adjust what your "best" means for you. If you keep giving your best, you'll get your best possible results.

Lift hard and train smart, my friends!


Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thoughts on accelerating my training.

As I've mentioned to Mark and the gang over at the MuscleHack FB page, I've discovered that since I've returned to "normal" THT training after a 10-week stint doing an accelerated THT 4.0 HIT Experiment I find that my current training "lacks" a bit of intensity.

Now, allow me to clarify that last statement: I'm training my ass off, doing the THT 4.0 Volume 3-day split as proscribed in the training guide by Mark. It's an awesome split and I'm making my gains. Indeed, I find that as I try to grind out "extra" work to regain that lost feeling of "intensity", it really kicks my ass. So, I've decided to throw together extra training days on the opposite end of the week.

Also, over the weekend, it was mentioned to me that I should consider entering an amateur natural bodybuilding competition. I'm not too sure about this, but that's likely my innate sense of shyness coming up again. At the very least, I'm going to crank my workout intensity / frequency back up to the point where I don't have an extended lull between days in the gym (as the current cycle feels just that way to me) and I'll lift as though it's all I have left in this life. It seems that my POP for a Volume cycle week is far faster than it was before. I guess that's what literally years of MuscleHack training does for you. :)

Also, uploading a couple of new pics from Sunday. I feel great lately - really great. Lifting is even more enjoyable than usual and I'm finding that I'm back to my old ways of massive progress at times.

But, enough of that - on to the pictures!

I've never felt bigger - and I'm fairly certain I've never been bigger in my entire life.

Tonight I'm just going up to do traps and some lower back work. Tomorrow is a standard THT 3-day Volume Wednesday, so chest / biceps / abs. This is a far more "frantic" pace than I had original envisioned, but it seems to be a decent compromise that suits my POP and gives me more per week than a standard MuscleHack THT 4.0 Volume workout would. I'm stoked. :)

Carry on, MuscleHackers! Lift hard and train smart!


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A new year, new goals and new progress!

I have to admit that when I realized I was stepping back into the "normal" MuscleHack THT 4.0 workouts, I was feeling like I was downshifting a bit. However, we all know that if you're performing a MuscleHack workout correctly you'll have an interesting time leaving the gym afterward!

So, with my now-customary resolve I decided to hit the ground running. I have to say that this was honestly one of the hardest "shifts" I've done between cycles. For a good two weeks, I found myself having to fight with my weights for each exercise. The transition was actually making me a little crazy because between weeks 1 and 2 I'd be way up in some areas and then significantly down again on the same exercises in others. However, week 3 seems to have levelled out some and I'm making my progress again.

Here's a shot from this AM, long before I could be considered "awake". No pump, just my thankfully-usual shredded and lean physique. MuscleHacking gets you there - and keeps you there!

Have a great day all! Train hard and lift smart!